President Donald Trump’s long-awaited U.S.-Mexico border wall is one step closer to being built after Republicans in the House of Representatives voted in favor of making a $1.6 billion down payment on the wall.
The provision that would funnel funds to build the wall is tucked into a larger $788 billion spending bill that would provide the Pentagon with funds for defense and veterans programs. GOP lawmakers are hoping that the spending package will be just one of many political victories that they can point to as Congress heads towards its August recess.
Trump has called for cuts to domestic agencies and foreign aid to the tune of $50 billion so that the money can be siphoned to the Pentagon. Republicans, particularly those in purple districts who have their eye on the 2018 elections, have attempted to appease both the president and their left-leaning constituents by scaling back cuts to domestic programs while securing even more Pentagon funding.
“Every single dime the President requested to start building a wall on our southern border he’s going to get,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). “Most importantly, we’re sending more to the VA to fix the veterans’ health care and reform outdated VA systems.”
The latest vote came down 230-196, with Democrats claiming that they could have defeated the provision funding the wall if they were able to bring it to a direct vote. Republicans in districts with large immigrant populations have also expressed their concerns with the measure.
Despite the latest victory for Trump’s agenda, the spending package faces a heated battle in the Senate, where the slim Republican majority must secure votes from Democrats in order to pass funding measures.